Netball Proteas Arrive Home

The Netball Proteas arrived back in Johannesburg on Wednesday, fresh from securing second place in the European Netball championships in Northern Ireland.  It was a successful tournament for South Africa, who lost only to England, but beat Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Trinidad and Tobago.  Coach Benny Saayman was happy with the outcome, but said there was still work to be done ahead of the Netball World Cup in Sydney in August:  ‘We were disappointing against England, but then we just kept getting better.  The last match, against Trinidad and Tobago, was recognised as the match of the tournament.  We had to fight hard, and Trinidad led for most of the match, but we came back in the final quarter and won the match 46-42.  I was very proud of the girls, and of the way they fought their way back into the match.’

Saayman said at the start of the tournament, the players took some time to adjust to playing together again:  ‘They have all been involved in the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League (NPL), so they have been playing intensively with other combinations.  But after the first day, they started playing as a team again, and were able to rely on one another.’  She said the players were still making too many basic errors:  ‘Particularly against England, where we lost too many passes and the feeds into the circle were poor.  We need to have more training camps before the World Cup, because it is essential that the players get to the point where they know exactly where everyone else is.  We have to get rid of these basic errors.’  She said the players and the coaching staff had both learned a good deal from the tournament:  ‘We can come back and put what we learned into practice.  The players will go back to the NPL, and then we have the Diamond Challenge, where we can look at some other players.  I am very pleased with the way our World Cup preparations are going.’

Photo credit: BLD Communications